On Mother's Day, Let's Think About Our Patients

Kathy D. Miller, MD


May 05, 2016

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Hi. It's Dr Kathy Miller from Indiana University. Spring has clearly sprung here in Indiana. Everything is in full bloom. We're starting to think about the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting and we're thinking about Mother's Day, which is coming up very soon. If you haven't had a chance to get those Mother's Day gifts, now is the time. I wanted to take a minute to stop and think about the impact of cancer on the lives of the mothers that we care for, and particularly on the lives of their children.

Do you ever forget that I have breast cancer?

The impact of this was brought home to me by two very poignant moments with my own patients. A patient was telling me that as she and her daughters were getting ready for the holidays last winter, her daughter, who had just turned 16, asked her, "Mom, do you ever forget that you have breast cancer?" She paused for a minute and said, "Well, yes. On a day-to-day basis, I'm going to work and taking care of you and taking care of Dad. On a day-to-day basis, it's not in the front of my mind, but it's always there." And then, with a little reluctance, she asked her 16-year-old daughter, "Do you ever forget that I have breast cancer?" And her daughter said, "Yeah, and then I feel kind of guilty, like I shouldn't forget, like it's always there in our family." I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Honestly, it's part of our goal that, for the children of our patients, the cancer is not such an everyday presence. But we can't get around the fact that it is.

Another patient has a blog. She has found it helpful to write down her thoughts and share them. I share this blog with her permission. She has written a recent blog post about what it's like to be the mother of four teenaged children and dealing with metastatic breast cancer at the same time. Take a look and take a moment to pause. Hug the mothers in your lives and give a special hug to your patients with stage IV disease who are mothers. We'll be back to talk about ASCO soon.


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